I recently left the United States to fulfill my newfound dream of learning another language and well, to live outside of the United States. This grand plan initiated while traveling through Bali, Indonesia last year around my thirtieth birthday. That’s right kids, the self-proclaimed enigma has revealed her age. What was a mere desire has now become a big reality, as I am currently coasting off of Oaxaca, México, studying Español & de-plugging from first world existence.
My U.S. roots stem from the deep south, while 90% of the last decade I was all big city biz in Los Angeles, California. My unwavering dedication and deep affinity for the City of Angels would render me loca had I been told this is where my life would be just some years later. Yet, here I am on an entirely new plane within this thing we call life. It’s baffling at times to make sense of the changes, but with imposed humility and hopefully what is now earned wisdom, I can peacefully say I am as open-hearted and open-minded about where life is taking me than I have ever been.
After a year of complete destruction, I am rebuilding my life as I know it. And, as I face and deal with profound grief and loss over the course of some unfortunate events this last year, I can still also peacefully declare it as an incredibly exciting time. Just as I had once set out those years ago to live my California dreams, I have found myself on the newest wild adventure of my life.
It has seemed as though my path has been an ongoing lesson to cope, accept, and integrate the dark that exists with the light. Paradoxical idiosyncrasies were undeniably written in my stars, so on a personal level this has been tremendously applicable. This blog is my experiment I suppose, as I reinvent and re-relate to myself once again. For I know now that it is okay my old self has evolved and is shedding away into the past. I shall strive to hang up the enigmatic mask I have long worn; it will always be a part of who I am. But, perhaps it is time to come out of the shadows… and step into the light.
See me, in all my grief and glory.
As my presumably fabulous L.A. life was crumbling around me, my ego & spirit went head to heart. The reeking suspicion was setting in that the greatest love affair I’d come to know, my marriage to the City of Angels, was nearing its end. Like any great love there’s simply no way to predict the story’s evolution. And, like many great narratives, what seemed to be a grueling devastation was actually an ignition of rebirth. California was a hell of a ride, but one that was starting to feel like the gas tank was teetering on empty. I trekked there at twenty years old from sweet home Alabama with so much pride, I was sure I’d never run out of fuel. As my resistance began to subside, the idea of an adventure was taking reign. Suffice it to say, there was no cushion lying around, but I was slowly readying myself to toss over the keys.
Where is my life headed? Who am I without this identity? It was a bleak road with no glimmering light in sight, aside from my one compelling instinct to flee for southeast Asia. How am I going to manage that? As I watched my home, Venice Beach, turn over & succumb to the gentrification that was part of a greater change within the city, I watched my wallet fall prey to these changes as well. I could no longer upkeep with the ever demanding market, unless I wanted to live to work, and that I did not. The burning smell of Balinese incense kept lurking over my way.
Travel goals actually became a great crutch during my California demise, an easy talking point of reasoning to others. Naturally, as change was setting in, these “others” were in sheer opposition. “If you leave, that’s it.” Of course there were lurking fears. Have I failed? Am I going backward? But, really such a declaration rings as music to my rebellious ears. I typically reject being bound to anything. As an astrology mentor once acutely proclaimed, “You’re a bird with a perch, not a cage.”
After all, I felt like I was drowning in a sea of expectations. I was sinking in the vast, vapid pool of proving one’s self. The identity that once was a glowing torch of inspiration & purpose had become a shackle. If I was going to “prove” anything, it was that I didn’t have to stay to prove anything. But, my intention was not to prove. My intention was to let go. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get to Bali, but about six months later on my thirtieth birthday, I stepped onto that plane and over to the other side of the world. Suffice it to say, it was a hell of a flight.
The other day was the anniversary of my brother’s death. We lost him over 10 years ago… and the only thing constant about the evolution of grief is that it’s never constant … making it one of my favorite things: interesting. It so happens that I had a lot on my mind that day, and virtual shout outs to those no longer existing in the physical wasn’t the first thing on it, but I felt pretty peaceful considering… so I thought I’d offer this …
(I shall strive to speak to my imagined audience as ego-less as possible…)
It’s different every time, but this year was the first year I felt pure gratitude &* clarity.
Grateful for the death of my brother.
Grateful for his life… and grateful for his death… & resooooounding clarity.
My big brother and my relationship with him shaped the entire course of my life. His death impacted me so profoundly, as it did for so many, that my hero’s journey became a map of fog. It may have initially been a state of disorientation, but the path of healing has been incredible & incredibly worth it. We were all impacted by his life and his death, one in the same … and the acceptance of the past as it is & the forgiveness it has led me to has left me feeling totally .. fucking. liberated.
I miss my brother. So much. Of course. But, missing who he was in the physical means missing out on who he has reemerged as in the non-physical… Because reaching for him back there.. in the past.. disconnects me from him here in the present. He’s still here… always, infinitely, forever.
I accept that this was the fate of his life within my life; our relationship is now transcendental. The liberty of acceptance has bred new life, and it’s not denial, nor passive observance. Instead, it’s complete acceptance that I control nothing outside of myself, only to align in real time, giving me greater access to my most elevated version. & sure, what is truth anyway? Well, my truth is my truth, and so on. It’s not being afraid of what we may have placed behind a veil. As Satori once said, “It’s faith, not fog.” It’s accepting what’s behind the veil for being true and real. To become conscious of the unconscious, we must first accept that which is real for what it is unto it’s entirety. Not the version we wish to see or don’t wish to see, not the version we project, but the truth emerged just as it is, and firstly accepting it just as that… then, faith that all is as it should be.
So, I accept every thing as it was, is, and is to be. My gratitude is for every person that has walked through my life… the good teachers and the bad teachers (still teachers). Or those that could still see me in the dark… once deep in pain (aka a fucking mess). For those that left me in pain, exposing where I was weak in boundary. Thank you for enemies, open or hidden, cultivating my inner voice and illuminating to me so brightly when I didn’t use it, inwardly or outwardly. For those that gave me life and those that drained it. Those that stayed and those that didn’t. For all that hit or reactivated wounds and vulnerabilities, aka divine opportunities to grow, to heal. I have faith that there’s something for me in every moment, even at it’s darkest, as being part of the package of life. I accept that sometimes it’s not always what we think it’s going to be, so the more I accept that, the more in the moment I become & the more ‘subtle joy,’ as Erich Schiffmann puts it, can begin to move in. And as much as it would be nice to have a story with my brother still in it… it’s still my story left to live, and the way he’s in it now is actually way fucking cooler. He gave me the mojo, the torch, and his power radiates stronger than ever.
& maybe it’s all the yoga, or that I’m blissed out on those Cali sunsets, or that this year has just been the best…. but really, it’s that the conditions of the physical world dictated so much of my life for so long, that I strive to choose: beyond. I choose to be empowered by a day that I once called the worst of my life.. instead I choose to embrace his highest version… now. Who he was is still great, but his soul remains nonetheless… and it’s the greatest.
I offer that to any one that has lost someone… which we all have in some way. But, consider it an alternate, reframed perspective.
& as it lies on my skin in ink,
Or on a more socially pleasant note, a favorite quote of mine:
“…make windows where there were once walls.” (Michel Foucault)
In the age of Global Network Society, some potent middle-finger action is available to us against the ‘ole “top-down” way of doing things. Space is collapsed thanks in part to communication technologies, and in my case, an invitation is made available to those that may or may not care to read what I have to say.
It has been a torn decision for someone like myself when considering the pursuit of certain endeavors such as this. I’m a real rebel at heart and a stubborn bitch. I simply don’t want to do things I don’t want to do. So for someone that wants to write, herein lies an opportunity to take advantage of doing what I want/saying what I want; however, I do have drastic tendencies towards privacy.
Is it worth trying to see if kindreds are out there and can dig what I have to say while I struggle to unveil myself? How much do I give to connect?
They say knowledge is power. Well, I’m obsessed with the concept of power. Or, maybe I’m obsessed with power. Either way, nowadays information is less controlled by industrial organizations and we are figuratively spoon-fed opportunities. So again, there’s the potential for the self-made entrepreneurs, the artist, or the whatever.
But the flip side with the e-lance world or jobs online is that you can become infinite, lost in the sea of competitors; more fish means less pay.
It’s all risk, baby.
I went to school to expand my brain. My intention was not to learn for some designated position. I went to realize my own potential intellectually & creatively. So now I’ve got the knowledge for those idea jobs, bae-b. All in all, it’s up to me to figure this out if I’m not going to yield. I will have to take the dive.
With risk also comes sacrifice. But what am I really sacrificing? Security? That also depends on what you consider security. If I learned anything, it’s words are arbitrary. It’s really about values. So what do I value then? Integrity for one. Courage. I value doing what I really want to do even if that goes against the norm. I ain’t scurred. Or maybe sometimes I am…
For the most part though, I try to tap into Joseph Campbell’s follow your bliss notion, believing in your internal voice. It is the compass that will guide your life. I remember reading him discussing that so many people work relentlessly to climb a ladder that they later discover is against the wrong wall. The thought makes me cringe, but there’s no need to fear if you follow your bliss. I already know what I want to do, so now it’s about taking the dive.
Making the sacrifice to live the life you want to live. How literal is this concept anyway? How do you even take the jump? I mean, where’s the plank? Supposedly, you have to start somewhere. So if I’m an artist, does that mean take it to the streets? Quit everything? Screw money!?
Where the hell do I start? Well, with the commitment. The commitment to myself that I’m only going to do what I really want to do while authentically living out my values.
I want to take care of my family. I want to be great. I want to believe I can do what I want just as those that have done it as well. I know I’m a little nuts, but it isn’t idealism that holds me back. It’s fear of the unknown and this idea of security. My friend said to me, “I feel like if you just decide to go all the way with it, it will happen for you.” Besides, Campbell also made a great point that I’ve experienced time & time again-
On the floor is where you are most likely to find your treasure. So, if you’re falling, dive. And yes, I realize this is some abstract shit I’m talkin’, but there are stars and a moon out there people– life is crazy shit!
Instinct has always worked for me before and what marvelous adventures have occurred. I am still young but I am certainly not getting younger. I’ve seen others encounter these questions throughout various stages in their lives. So, there’s the beauty I guess. Life is always evolving and you may meet similar questions again at some point later in life. You may have left an entire chapter behind to start anew & feel incredibly lost. The unknown can be frightening, but the internal voice remains if you listen to it. Never underestimate your ability to tap back in and transform your life. No matter where you’re coming from, you can go where you hope to.
So when you hit that wall & there’s no door, don’t think that you can’t make that fucking door!
If you’re in alliance with your values, it’s guaranteed you will prosper. It’s kind of like taking the high road, it’s always going to be in your best interest. So, if you stay true to yourself, you’ll always come out on top.
I realize that metaphorically looking at a blank canvas can be a bit, um, scary. I also realize that if I can’t see in the dark either, then perhaps I really don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, but…
I say it’s still time to paint, ya know? You’re responsible for your life. Who else is going to paint for you?
Besides, if I only get one brush, then you best believe this will be me — Shit, don’t touch my brush!